The season may be done on the field, but that doesn’t mean Atlanta United is resting on its laurels. The Five Stripes don’t stop, and that has never been more apparent than in November. Here’s what you may have missed last month:
Julian Gressel wins MLS Rookie of the Year
The month began with some deserved recognition for one of Atlanta United’s breakout players this season. Midfielder Julian Gressel was named the AT&T Rookie of the Year for Major League Soccer this season with 54% of the vote – more than triple the second place finisher. Gressel was a key, versatile contributor for Atlanta United this year, making 32 appearances in five different positions for Tata Martino. His nine assists were the third-highest ever for an MLS rookie.
ATL UTD lands 5 in list of top-25 selling MLS jerseys
Miguel Almirón’s number ten shirt was the highest-selling kit in Major League Soccer this year, headlining an incredible year for Atlanta United that landed five players in the top 25. Josef Martinez was just behind in third place while Tito Villalba, Greg Garza and Yamil Asad all made the list as well. It’s an achievement by the Five Stripes’ incredible fanbase that painted Mercedes-Benz Stadium red, black and gold every matchday.
USL in the ATL
Another chapter in Atlanta United’s history officially began in November, with the announcement that Atlanta United will launch a USL expansion team during the 2018 season. Set to play at Coolray Field in Gwinnett County this year, the team will be a key driver for long-term player development as well as a place for short-term loans and rehab appearances for first-team players. Stay tuned for details on the team name and roster.
ATL UTD takes home Goal and Save of the Year
With the digital dominance the Atlanta United fan base has demonstrated all year long, it was no surprise when the winner of the fan-voted MLS Goal and Save of the Year awards were announced. The red, black and gold took home both awards, with Tito Villalba’s long-range screamer against Orlando City and Brad Guzan’s point-blank stop against the New York Red Bulls taking home the top honors. And with quality like that, who can argue?
MBS goes platinum
Sustainability remains a key part of Atlanta United’s mission, and a major milestone came on that front as Mercedes-Benz Stadium became the first professional sports stadium to receive LEED Platinum certification. The stadium’s public transit accessibility, locally-sourced food options and state-of-the-art stormwater management system were just a few of the reasons it received the highest LEED rating ever given to a sports stadium.
Newcomer of the Year
Continuing Atlanta United’s award-winning season was midfielder Miguel Almirón, who was named the MLS Newcomer of the Year. Miggy beat out a star-studded nomination list for the award, which recognizes players with prior professional experience but new to MLS.
Year-end roster moves
A shakeup to the roster came in November, as Atlanta United announced its year-end roster moves. Alex Tambakis, Mark Bloom, Zach Lloyd, Tye Mears, Harrison Heath, Kenwyne Jones, Geoffrey Otoo, Kyle Reynish and Bobby Boswell were released from their contracts, while Julian Gressel, Alec Kann, Mikey Ambrose, Romario Williams, and Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu will all be back for 2018.
Atlanta United announced its first opponent for 2018 in November. The club will travel to First Tennessee Park to face Nashville SC in the team’s first ever soccer match in their home. The match is scheduled for February 10th, as the red, black and gold will face the newest side coming to USL in 2018. Atlanta United is also scheduled to play in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, SC a week later.
Garza signs permanent deal
The biggest offseason move yet came just before the month, with the club announcing that Greg Garza had signed a permanent deal to stay in Atlanta. The left back, who was on loan from LigaMX side Tijuana last year, was a fan favorite and had a breakout All-Star season on the left flank of Tata Martino’s side. “It’s something I and my family always wanted,” Garza told ATLUTD.com after the announcement. “Luckily everything worked out and we’re very fortunate to call Atlanta our new home.”
Almirón and Martinez named to Best XI
The final day of the month was a celebration for Atlanta United, with two players from the red, black and gold named to the MLS Best XI. Miguel Almirón and Josef Martinez were selected for the honor, with Atlanta United one of just three teams to have at least two players in the team.
With one new player already announced and plenty more in the pipeline for December, make sure to stay tuned to ATLUTD.com for everything you need to know this offseason. Don’t forget: the Five Stripes don’t stop.